There are currently more than 2 million Americans in long-term nursing facilities. Unfortunately, elder abuse and neglect is an all-too-common problem across the country. Between 1999 and 2001, nearly 1 in every 3 nursing homes in the United States was cited for abuse.
Sometimes caregivers at home are responsible for the neglect or abuse but sometimes it is nursing home staff or other residents. Seniors are protected by elder abuse prevention laws in every state. If you suspect a loved one is being abused or neglected, you can contact Adult Protective Services and a lawyer for help.
Types of Elder Abuse
Vulnerable people in nursing homes may be abused in several ways:
- Neglect, or failure to provide health care, food, shelter, and protection
- Exploitation, or illegally taking, misusing, or concealing the senior’s funds or property
- Physical abuse, or inflicting physical injury or pain
- Sexual abuse, which is non-consensual sexual contact
- Emotional abuse, which means inflicting mental distress, pain, or anguish
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
One sign does not indicate your loved one is necessarily being abuse, although these are common signs of abuse and neglect:
- Bed sores or pressure ulcers
- Becomes agitated, upset, or withdrawn
- Marks from the use of restraints
- Over sedation
- Unexplained weight loss
- Reluctant to speak around staff members
- “False dementia,” or rocking, mumbling, or sucking behavior
- Unexplained injuries
- Unclean conditions
- Strange or sudden behavioral changes
- Recent changes to a will, trust, or deed
- New loans
- Loss of personal property
Other Warning Signs
There are other signs that your loved one may be in an abusive situation. You may want to look for other signs of neglect or abuse if one resident has hurt another in the facility, your loved one is ill often and the illnesses are not reported, your loved one experiences injuries during or right after wandering, or your one suffers injuries that require emergency treatment.
What You Can Do
Always be alert for signs of abuse and neglect when you visit your loved one. Remember that most victims suffer in silence.
If you suspect your loved one has been abused or neglected, it’s important to take action right away. You can start by informing the authorities. If the district attorney believes there is evidence of criminal behavior, the state will file criminal charges. You can also file a complaint with the state’s Adult Protective Services and Department of Social Services.
You may want to consider hiring a personal injury attorney who specializes in elder abuse attorney of Albuquerque or nursing home law. An attorney can help you and your loved one seek compensation for your loved one’s injuries and suffering.
Seniors and family members may bring several types of claims against the facility, including claims of neglect, financial exploitation, physical abuse, financial abuse, false imprisonment, and sexual abuse.